Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cape Canaveral Monsters, The (1960)

Directed by:
Phil Tucker

Phil Tucker, mastermind behind the notorious stinker ROBOT MONSTER (1953), strikes again! A couple leaving the beach are possessed by a pair of alien beings (represented by tiny specks of "green" light), who cause them to wreck their car and one of them to lose a limb. The aliens - Hauron (Jason Johnson) and Nadja (Katherine Victor) - hide out in a secret cave laboratory and have several chief objectives while on Earth. For starters, Hauron needs a new arm after the car wreck and a failed attempt to just sew it on (a dog ends up ripping if off), which gives them an opportunity to experiment with limb, bone and skin transplants; using unwilling victims as their guinea pigs, of course. Second, they've been given orders to sabotage NASA and prevent any rockets from leaving the planet, which means Hauron gets to frequently blast them out of the sky with his huge (looks like a rocket launcher) photon gun. And finally, the aliens are plotting to eventually invade the Earth and take over, so they'd first like to get to know and understand humans just a little bit better. They achieve this through observation, drilling captives with questions and then sticking them in their cryogenic capsule, freezing them and sending them back to their home planet for research.

Meanwhile, NASA scientists can't seen to figure out why their rockets keep exploding soon after take-off. Student and brilliant young mathematician Tom Wright (Scott Peters) decides to try to get to the bottom of things. But first, he'd like to have coffee with cute co-worker Sally (Linda Connell), the daughter of one of his superiors, German scientist Dr. Heinrich Von Hoften (Billy Greene), who objects to the union and mixing business with pleasure. Nevertheless, the two lovebirds, along with their pals Bob (Gary Travis) and Shirley (Thelaine Williams) start sneaking off to Lover's Lane for some late night romance. Shirley and Bob get kidnapped and taken back to the cave, where Bob becomes an unwilling arm and chin donor to help repair Hauron and Shirley is injected with sedative, dressed in a metallic sheet, given the alien equivalent of electro convulsive shock therapy and is frozen alive in preparation for being shipped off to the alien's planet. It isn't long before Tom and Sally also find themselves being held against their will, as their colleagues and some police officers scour the beaches and hills trying to locate them.

It's low-budget, some of the dialogue is silly (ditto for the 'science'), there's a really bad attempt at a foreign accent and the ending is weak (I'll get to that here in a sec), but this is still a pretty fun little diversion. I particularly liked the fact that the male alien is the slightly more compassionate of the two and wants to have pleasant conversations with humans while the female alien is colder, more evil and just wants to get down to business. The movie is also jam-packed with alien gadgets. In addition to the aforementioned photon gun and the cryogenics tube, the aliens use a device with a spinning translucent plate to communicate with their planet and a radium light to pin people to the wall. They also booby trap the cave with some kind of device that suspends people in their tracks, blast the cops with a "paralysis ray" and have a vat of bubbling goo nearby that's a portal back home.

Canadian-born Scott Peters (born Peter Sikorski) had already appeared in such Z-movie classics as THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957), INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957) and ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1958) when he appeared in this one. Though he's about ten years too old for the role of a young science prodigy, he's likable and amiable enough. Plus he gets the film's best line: "I think with a little help we can lick these freaks!" Johnson and Victor are pretty amusing as the stone-faced aliens. Ms. Victor (born Katena Ktenavea) was a decent actress adept at playing villainess' and fairly well-known to cult cinema fans for her appearances in MESA OF LOST WOMEN (1952), TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1957) and a half-dozen films for Jerry Warren. In her later years, she kept steadily employed with Disney, doing continuity coordinator for such animated TV shows as Tail Spin, Darkwing Duck, Quack Pack, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and many others. Most of the other cast members' film careers began and ended right here, though there's a long-standing (and incorrect) rumor that director Al Adamson is also in it.

Now back to that ending... I suppose you might want to skip this paragraph if you don't want it spoiled. Our heroes manage to escape the cave before it explodes. The aliens on the other hand had already transformed back into light specks and returned to their planet minutes earlier. Since the alien duo had already mentioned they're planning to takeover the Earth, it felt kind of half-assed and incomplete for the leads and their rescuers to just walk off into the sunset acting carefree. Especially with the knowledge that they're going to have to face more of these alien fiends sometime in the near future. I don't mind it having an open ending per se, but I thought it would awesome if after exiting the cave our heroes looked up into the sky and it was filled with light specks. That would have been an awesome and affordable apocalyptic ending instead of just completely leaving us hanging!

I might be overrating this by some people's standards, as it's usually written off as laughable schlock of par with the director's other, more-famous sci-fi turkey. I simply don't agree at all with that assessment. It's enjoyable, entertaining and with a run time of just 69 minutes, it moves at a good pace without the need for too much filler.



Bill Dan Courtney said...

Sure, this was a fun one and I need to eventually review it too one day. Some people miss the whole point by actually going over board with criticisms about these sorts of films. Been a while since I watched it and may have to do a rewatch before I tackle it. Good site.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Yeah Bill, I really didn't think this was bad either. I think it's gotten a raw deal because of the director's *other* movie. Oh well. Thanks and looking forward to your eventual review. :)

CavedogRob said...

Wow! I haven't seen this movie in years! I remember laughing a lot though. I will have to check it out again.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Yes you will Rob. Either this was a fine mindless B-movie or I'm still desperate for entertainment after sitting through three Nick Millard movies. :D

DUKE said...

It was good as far as B movies go. My only regret is that there are no more movies casting Thelaine Williams. She really had all that it took to be a star. Absolutely beautiful.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Yes there are lot of beauties who do like one film and then disappear. Guess there's only so much room at the top!

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